Wilco floods Duluth with good vibes
Duluth to Minneapolis: "I'll see your two Wilco shows at the State Theatre, and raise you one gorgeous night at Bayfront Festival Park." As sure a bet in concert as any band out there nowadays, Wilco upped the stakes for Minnesota fans Sunday night. The Chicago rockers were as solid as ever, as versatile and iridescent as ever, as perfect as ever. The fact that they were so good might be the least newsworthy thing about the nearly two-hour performance, especially after their two equally stellar December shows at the State in Minneapolis shortly after the release of their latest album, "The Whole Love."
Take either of those shows, though, and relocate them harborside at Lake Superior on a night that would make Paul Douglas use orgasmic language. Imagine the, um, superiority. An outdoor venue as scenic and cozy as Duluth's Bayfront Festival Park on a clear, perfect night is going to win out any day over an indoor space, even one as pristine as the State.
"It's good to be home," frontman Jeff Tweedy told the 3,500 or so fans at the start of Sunday's set -- a reference to the honorary citizenship proclamation the band got last time it played in town, inside the nearby DECC in 2010. Tweedy made no reference to the last time Wilco played Bayfront Park, when the weather turned sleety and wintry (in early September). Talking in the second encore, though, he did recall the show they played in Madison, Wis., right after that DECC gig.
"After they heard you made us honorary citizens, they got all pissed off because they felt like they had a bigger claim on us or something," Tweedy said, going on to explain that Madison then gave them a citizenship proclamation, too. "The ball is in your court now, Duluth. ... We've never gotten a key to the city. Think it over. Maybe have a referendum in November. We'll wait."
They had to wait all of a song and a half. As perfect as everything else about Sunday night, Duluth Mayor Don Ness -- on hand as a fan, and to encourage the concert's Red Cross flood fund donations -- walked toward the stage and handed an actual key up to Tweedy, who was clearly taken aback. "That was the weirdest thing that's ever happened," he said. - CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER
First Avenue comes out against amendment
Probably not too worried about a conservative boycott hurting their upcoming Hot Chip, Ani DiFranco or Jesus and Mary Chain concerts, the owner and staff at First Avenue nightclub have raised their voices -- and, more specifically, erected a billboard -- denouncing the same-sex marriage ban that Minnesota voters will face this Election Day. The club's name and logo are featured on a new billboard near Target Field that reads, "Don't limit the freedom to marry," and, "First Avenue supports same-sex marriage and equality for all people." It includes the website for Minnesotans United for All Families, the primary organization urging voters to say no to the proposed amendment.
Although First Ave has large billboard space on top of its own building, this billboard is actually on the other side of the ballpark near Lee's Liquor Lounge, at 12th St. and Glenwood Av. The club's owner, Byron Frank, came up with the idea for the billboard and paid for it entirely out-of-pocket, First Ave general manager Nate Kranz said. There will be continuing efforts to fight the amendment inside the club, too, including more ads and fundraising efforts, he added.